Articles by Jan Larson McLaughlin

Daddies and daughters put on their dancing shoes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Ben Otley tried to brush up on his Macarena dance moves Friday. But in the end, it didn’t really matter if his arms went up when they should have gone down, or if his hips went right when they should have gone left. It just mattered that he was there at the annual Daddy Daughter Dance at the Bowling Green Community Center. “It’s just a great time to spend with my girls to make memories,” Otley said as he waited for dinner with his daughters, Reagan, 12, and Maggie, 8. Maggie took off across the dance floor to show her ballet and gymnastic skills. Her dad opted to sit out that trial. “If I did, I’d have to go the hospital,” Otley said. Both girls had already posed for photos with their dad, and were waiting for a chance to dance. “Some of the girls don’t want to have their dads on the dance floor,” Reagan said. But it appeared Otley’s dance card would be full for the evening. As the 75 dads and daughters gathered in the gymnasium, the room filled with little girls in glittery dresses, sparkling shoes, and fancy hair buns. At one table, Michael Abraham and his daughter, Angellica, 8, tried to put beads on a string to make a bracelet. “I wanted to spend time with my dad,” Angellica said. “He works all the time.” Abraham, who works as a quality engineer at Jeep, was struggling to complete the bracelet, while Angellica was looking forward to dancing with her dad. “I usually step on his feet,” she said with a grin. In the kitchen, George Nicholson and his crew from Campus Pollyeyes were making pizza, pasta, breadsticks and salad for the annual dance. “They ask me to do this every year, and it’s a lot of fun,” Nicholson said. This was the second year for Beau Holley and his daughters, Morgan, 6, and Erika, 8, to attend the event. “The girls like getting dressed up and seeing…


BG to save as many trees as possible near new City Park building

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Before the new City Park building goes up, some of the trees in the park will need to come down. But special effort is being made to save as many of the bigger trees that have been there for decades, and the smaller trees that were planted there as memorials by families. Later this summer, the aging Veterans Building, Girl Scout Building and Depot building will be demolished to make room for one new building near the entrance of City Park. As plans were discussed last year about the new building, residents were assured that efforts would be made to save as many trees as possible at the building site. Park and Recreation Department Director Kristin Otley noted at the last park board meeting that many of the memorial trees at the site can be saved. Of the six memorial trees, five will be moved to other locations in City Park. “That is fantastic,” she said. “We are going to be able to move almost all of them to places in City Park.” The trees will be transplanted later this winter or in early spring, when the ground is frozen and the trees are dormant. The memorial markers will be moved with the trees. “There are some locations where we actually need trees” in the park, Otley said. “The fact that we can move those to even a better spot in the park where we need them is pretty great.” The Parks and Recreation Department has reached out to the families who had the trees planted in memory of loved ones to make them aware of the plans. City Arborist Grant Jones said the memorial trees being transplanted are healthy oak, beech and maple. The largest is seven inches in diameter. “They are trees that are still small enough to survive if put someplace else,” Jones said. “They will stay there in City Park.” Those transplanted trees will get more water and care for the next couple summers. “They will need a…


Historic farm acreage could be site for wetlands project

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Settlers in the Great Black Swamp worked hard to drain the soil to make fields that would grow crops rather than flood. Now, a group dedicated to conservation may work hard to turn one field back into wetlands. Melanie Coulter, of the Black Swamp Conservancy, presented a proposal on Tuesday to the Wood County Park District. The conservancy is a non-profit land trust with a goal of conserving primarily private and some public lands. Coulter’s proposal to the park district board was to set up a demonstration project on acreage at the Carter Historic Farm, located north of Bowling Green on Carter Road. “It’s a working farm that the public comes to,” she said. So the project could become an example of how wetlands can be used to filter out nutrients from farm fields. The preliminary proposal calls for a series of wetlands with a wooded buffer on 20 acres on the far west end of the farm. The acreage involved sits along a ditch that flows into Toussaint Creek. If grant funding is received, a public meeting would then be held to explain the wetlands project, Coulter told the park board. The wetlands would be designed to create wildlife habitat, she added. The acreage being considered for the wetlands project would be on land currently being used as farmland. The existing wooded area near the field would not be touched and the existing drainage would not be changed. Working on the design of the demonstration project is Hull & Associates. The construction of a wetlands and buffer area would be quite expensive. The preliminary estimate is in the $400,000 range, Coulter said. That amount could be trimmed if the acreage was reduced, she said. Wood County Park District Executive Director Neil Munger said if the project proceeds past the design stage, grant funding would be sought for construction. Since the Toussaint Creek is in the Maumee “area of concern” for waterways and contamination of Lake Erie, the wetlands demonstration project may…


NW district weighs water options from Toledo, BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Concerns about water quality, quantity and costs have resulted in a possible regional water system with Toledo in the center. But if that Plan A falls apart, then the northern Wood County area is eyeing a possible Plan B involving Bowling Green water. The Northwestern Water and Sewer District held a public meeting in Perrysburg Thursday evening to talk about possible options for approximately 6,500 of its water customers in northern Wood County. To serve its northern customers, the district currently purchases water from Toledo, then distributes it to Rossford, Northwood, Walbridge, Perrysburg Township, Troy Township and Lake Township. The status quo has been disrupted in the past few years by several concerns about Toledo water quality and cost. Toledo has been ordered to make many water system improvements, with the costs being passed on to customers who already pay large surcharges. Complaints from communities served by the district have shown growing dissatisfaction over the rates and the water quality since the Toledo system went through the algal bloom crisis of 2014. The district’s contract with Toledo water expires in 2024 – which in water agreement years is not much time. Meanwhile, talks with Toledo are still not quite complete, and negotiations with Bowling Green haven’t even begun. Rex Huffman, attorney with the district, explained at Thursday’s meeting that several political entities served by Toledo water share the same concerns. So after months of negotiations, the Toledo Area Water Authority was created. Signing a memorandum of understanding for TAWA were officials from the Northwestern Water and Sewer District, Toledo, Lucas County, Maumee, Perrysburg, Sylvania, Whitehouse, Fulton County and Monroe County. “We have a chance to really look at regional water,” Huffman said. “We want to link arms, work together, solve these problems regionally,” he said. The TAWA agreement focuses on providing economical savings and environmentally safe water for all parties, according to Eric Rothstein, an attorney who is helping to form the water authority. “This is an approach to a regional water…


Man arrested for pulling fire alarm and trying to kick in door at Crim Elementary

Bowling Green police and fire divisions responded to a fire alarm at Crim Elementary Thursday around 11 p.m. There was no fire, but they found a barefooted man trying to kick in a back door at the school. The man, Joe Schmidt, 53, of Third Street in Bowling Green, told police he was looking for his fishing pole because he wanted to go fishing, Police Chief Tony Hetrick said this morning. Hetrick said there was evidence of drug use by Schmidt. Prior to trying to kick in the back door at the school, Schmidt apparently had gotten in the front vestibule area of the elementary where he pulled the fire alarm. He was not able to get past the vestibule area into the school, Hetrick said. Barefoot marks were found on the school’s front door, and the doorbell had been broken, the chief said. Schmidt was charged with criminal trespassing and jailed at the Wood County Justice Center.


BG district scrutinizes safety after Parkland shooting

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   In response to growing violence at schools across the nation, Bowling Green City Schools had each classroom equipped with a “Boot” last year. The “Boot” was created by Rob Couturier, of Michigan, after his daughter was the victim of a violent attack. The “Boot,” is a rectangular-shaped plate of quarter-inch thick industrial steel. Secured by two steel pegs, the plate can withstand 16,000 pounds of pressure and keep doors closed to intruders. The safety mechanism has been installed in more than 100 public schools and 18 private schools in the region. Bowling Green Superintendent Francis Scruci rests a little easier knowing every classroom in the district has a mechanism to keep an intruder out and keep the students safe inside. However, Scruci also realizes nothing is completely safe. “Anytime we’re talking about student safety, there is always more you can do,” Scruci said Thursday, the day after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed at 17. “We want to make sure kids are safe. But we can’t with 100 percent certainty,” he said. “We don’t have the resources to make them as safe as possible.” But in the case of the Parkland shooter, who reportedly went door to door to classrooms, the “Boot” would keep him from entering rooms. “That’s the beauty of the ‘Boot.’ He’s not getting in there,” Scruci said. In addition to the “Boot” on classroom doors, the Bowling Green school district also relies on students and staff to point out troubled students, hold training drills at the school, and work with local police on responding to threats. By law, every school must hold a lockdown drill at least once a year. “We just had a meeting and discussed that we need to do it more often,” Scruci said. “We don’t ever want to think this is a new normal, but we want people to be prepared.” Of course, the school district can’t prepare for every possibility, he said. The accused shooter in the Florida school pulled a…


BG teacher helps sculpt students into young artists

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nikki Myers is not above using puns to get students excited about art. One pottery team was deemed the “Harry Potters.” Some projects create so much mess, “it looked like a unicorn threw up in my room.” Myers, art teacher at Bowling Green High School, was recognized Thursday by the Kiwanis Club as this year’s high school inspirational educator. As she was being honored, Myers gave the Kiwanis members a taste of what it is like being in her classroom. The assignment had grownups teaming up to draw bizarre creatures. The result in one case was a nerdy geek head, sitting atop a winding intestines torso, complete with duck feet as the final touch. “It’s a great way to open up,” Myers explained of the art exercise. “It’s a great way to get them to work together.” Myers likes to combine problem solving with art. Like when she has students take off their shoes and work together to create the tallest shoe sculpture. First comes the frustration as the shoes keep falling over. Then comes the light bulb. “They start to figure it out. They get geeked out,” she said. “The kids are pushed beyond what they think they can do to make great art,” Myers said. Students see what they can create from a cup or a plain white T-shirt. “Then we have a fashion show.” The students visit a local farm to experiment with photography. “They get all geeked out hanging with the cows,” she said. They go to the Toledo Museum of Art, and play with the interactive art. “They sounded like they were in second grade,” she said of the high school juniors and seniors. Students learn how to make moveable metal art – like a metal armadillo that squirms and a decorative pair of scissors that make a cutting motion. Myers is also big on making mistakes. “You’ve got to fail to succeed,” she said. She is also big on community, and getting her students involved by…


BG pursues second solar field – for community power

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The City of Bowling Green sees a bright future for more solar power. The problem is finding big open areas for another solar field. The city could use some land it has purchased over the years for economic development. But Public Utilities Director Brian O’Connell pointed out that while solar fields generate green energy, they do not generate long-term jobs. The city could use some of the 70 acres left at its current solar field on Carter Road, northeast of the city. But that property may be needed for land application of biosolids from the wastewater treatment plant. “With a solar project, you need a lot of land,” O’Connell said to the board of utilities Monday evening. So the city has approached the Wood County commissioners about using county land for another solar field. There are currently 71.5 open acres on the north side of East Gypsy Lane Road, between Interstate 75 and Wood Lane. Approximately 51.5 acres are owned by the county and 20 by the Wood County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The land is currently rented out as farmland. Both Wood County and the Board of Developmental Disabilities are interested in the solar project, O’Connell said. And they aren’t alone, according to Mayor Dick Edwards, who commended O’Connell and Daryl Stockburger, assistant director of the city utilities department, for pursuing an agreement to use the county land. “There’s real strong community interest in another solar project,” Edwards said. A three-year contract for the acreage was presented to the board of public utilities Monday evening. If the solar field becomes a reality, it would likely be a “community solar” project – which means Bowling Green residents and businesses could sign up to be part of the project and get their electricity from the solar field, O’Connell said. That would make this different from the 165-acre solar field recently constructed on city land at Carter and Newton roads. Bowling Green gets a portion of the power generated at that solar field –…


BG School Board meeting Feb. 20 at 5 p.m.

The Bowling Green Board of Education will hold a regular meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 5 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Bowling Green Middle School Library, 1079 Fairview Ave., Bowling Green.  


Trash and recycling pickup delayed next week

The City of Bowling Green offices will be closed on Monday, Feb. 19, in observation of Presidents’ Day. As a result, all refuse and recycling collection will be delayed by one day per the following: – Regular Monday collection will be collected on Tuesday. – Regular Tuesday collection will be collected on Wednesday. – Regular Wednesday collection will be collected on Thursday. – Regular Thursday collection will be collected on Friday. Questions about this schedule or the city’s refuse/recycling program may be directed to the Public Works Department at 419-354-6227.


Work Leads to Independence receives CARF accreditation

(Submitted by Work Leads to Independence) Work Leads to Independence was recently notified that they achieved the maximum allowable accreditation (three years) from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). CARF International is an independent, nonprofit organization focused on advancing the quality of services to individuals with disabilities. CARF International provides accreditation services worldwide at the request of health and human service providers. Through this accreditation, CARF assists service providers in improving the quality of their services, demonstrating value, and meeting internationally recognized organizational and program standards. The accreditation process applies sets of standards to service areas and business practices during an on-site survey. Accreditation, however, is an ongoing process, signaling to the public that a service provider is committed to continuously improving services, encouraging feedback, and serving the community. Accreditation also demonstrates a provider’s commitment to enhance its performance, manage its risk, and distinguish its service delivery. This accreditation will extend through Dec. 31, 2020. This achievement is an indication of Work Leads to Independence dedication and commitment to improving the quality of the lives of the persons served. We invite you to visit our new headquarters at 991 S. Main St., Bowling Green, to learn more about the services we provide, and opportunities we create for the individuals we serve. For more information, please contact us at 419.352.5059


Park district grants pay for playgrounds, picnic tables

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For 30 years, the Wood County Park District has been sharing its levy revenues with local community parks. Towns use the funds for picnic tables, playground equipment and ADA sidewalks to parking lots. This year was no different, with the county park board getting a list Tuesday of the community requests selected for funding by park officials from neighboring counties. Neil Munger, executive director of the Wood County Park District, explained the local grants have been awarded since the passage of the first park district levy in 1988. This year another $100,000 will be handed out to meet the following requests: Bloomdale, $4,157 for picnic tables. Bowling Green, $4,332 to fund features for obstacle course fitness trail. Bradner, $2,479 for playground equipment. Custar, $6,900 for walking path, rain garden and swing bench. Cygnet, $9,011 for playground safety surfacing and ADA sidewalk to parking lot and restrooms. North Baltimore, $14,872 for playground safety surfacing and to replace roofs on shelters. Pemberville, $8,635 to complete shelter house conversion and playground mulch. Perrysburg, $11,949 for sunshades and swing bench. Walbridge, $14,372 for construction of a new basketball court. West Millgrove, $14,988 for playground equipment and safety surfacing. Weston, $8,305 for sunshade. Two park grant requests – one from Luckey and one from Tontogany – did not make the cut. The park district plans to continue its grants to local community parks, but first it must pass its 1-mill renewal levy in May. Board President Denny Parish noted the park district has less than 90 days till the May 8 election. The levy is the “lifeblood of the park system,” Parish said. “I hope the public will continue to support us in May and into the future,” he said. Parish said he has been asked by some local citizens how the park district can project 10 years into the future. “We have five citizen volunteers sitting in chairs as park commissioners who are very aware these are taxpayer funds,” he said. Also at the meeting, the…


Two BG sites file to be medical marijuana dispensaries

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Two locations in Bowling Green are being reviewed as a possible site for a medical marijuana dispensary. The state has been divided into four quadrants for medical marijuana sales – with Northwest Ohio to have 10 dispensaries. The region has been broken into districts, with Wood, Hancock and Henry counties being combined into one district to be allowed one dispensary. No applicants filed for locations in Hancock or Henry counties. So that leaves Wood County to host a dispensary. The three applications filed with the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy are for sites at: 106 E. Napoleon Road, Bowling Green, with the business name of Debbie’s Dispensary, filed by Sara Presler. 1155 N. Main St., Bowling Green, with the business name of Glass City Alternatives, filed by Mark Jacobs. 2701 Woodville Road, Northwood, with the business name of Serenity Dispensary, filed by Deitra Hickey. House Bill 523, the Ohio law that in 2016 legalized marijuana for medical use only, tasked the Ohio Board of Pharmacy with determining which locations should be approved as dispensaries. A total of potential 376 sites were submitted, though just 60 will be approved, according to Grant Miller, spokesperson with the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. The law requires 500 feet between any marijuana business and a school, church, public library or public playground. “We have to make sure they are complying with the rule,” Miller said on Monday. “It’s an in depth process. Obviously, there’s a lot that goes into the application.” The selected dispensary locations will be announced this spring, he said. There will not be an opportunity for the public to comment on the applications prior to their selection, Miller said. All the applicants were required to show the sites had proper commercial zoning, and that the community had not enacted a moratorium on the sale of medical marijuana. “When it comes to dispensaries and the way they interact with areas, it’s really up to the local areas. In the end, it’s down to the…


Notary Public training offered on March 13

(Submitted by Northwest Regional Library District) Comprehensive, Ohio specific notary training will be offered for existing notary publics, and for those interested in becoming a notary. Learn about your role, responsibilities and risks as a notary. Roger Rill, of the Ohio Society of Notaries, will talk about the tools of the trade, documents and essential steps for any notarization. This training is, according to the society, “the best and most comprehensive Ohio-specific notary training available.” Registration is required. Call 614-259-5022. The fee for this three-hour session is $60 per person, which can be paid in cash or by check made out to the Ohio Society of Notaries at the time of the training. The training will be held March 13, from 1 to 4 p.m., in the Carter House, 307 N. Church St., Bowling Green.


Opioid war being waged, with casualties close to home

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The chief toxicologist with Lucas County Coroner’s Office studies death for a living. He has never seen anything like the opiate epidemic. “There has never, ever, ever, ever been anything in our country like this,” Dr. Robert Forney said Sunday during an opioid forum sponsored by the Eastwood Community Improvement Corporation and led by Dr. Ted Bowlus, a Wood County commissioner and physician. “We are killing more people every year than we lost in the Vietnam War,” Forney said at the meeting held in Pemberville. The death statistics are similar to a 737 crashing each day. “The numbers are just unbelievable.” Forney’s toxicology work covers 21 counties, including Wood. In 2010, his office saw eight opioid deaths. By 2017, that number had jumped to 350. “There are going to be more in 2018,” he predicted. Others on the panel are working to prevent those numbers from growing in Wood County. Most recently, Wood County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Dobson set up the Addiction Response Collaborative. “There is an industry out there that hates what we’re doing here today,” Dobson said of the illegal drug trade. “We’re at war with that industry.” Dobson, who lost a stepson to opiate overdose, said his office takes that war seriously. “We’re one of the most aggressive offices prosecuting drug dealers who kill their buyers.” But that isn’t enough, he added. “In a war, we take in the refugees.” That’s where ARC comes in. Belinda Brooks and Deputy Ryan Richards work with ARC to keep track of opiate addicts and give them every opportunity to get clean. For Richards, that means random checks. “I want to make sure he knows I’m watching him.” For Brooks, that means getting the addicts set up with Medicaid and other services. “We stay with them for the long haul. It’s so easy for them to relapse,” said Brooks, whose daughter was an opiate addict. Since ARC started in November, the program has worked with 15 addicts – 14 who are still sober,…